Below you’ll find an article written by former AME Minster, Dr.

Bennie Colclough. Dr. Colclough has been at the forefront of the civil

rights movement in SC for most of his life, and he continues the fight

for LGBT equality today. Over the past three years, Dr. Colclough has sacrificed friendships, a high position in the church, and his own comfort to take a stand for what he knows is right. We would all do well to heed his call.

Can we hear the call for change?

The African-American community should pay close attention to what

Sen. Barack Obama has said about equality for gay and lesbian Americans

and the correlation of religion-based bigotry and discrimination

against African-Americans.

The struggle for justice, equality, and dignity for gay and lesbian

Americans continues and Sen. Obama and other leaders have engaged the

African-American faith community on this issue.

Are we listening?

As an African-American minister, I many years ago heard the call

for change on this issue and it is still my resolve today to be a

missionary for justice and equality, to be courageous, true to my

faith, and challenge the African-American faith community, to love God

with our whole heart and our neighbors as ourselves.

The African-American faith community must defend the human dignity

of all people as distinguished leaders in our community are calling us

to this task.

Consider Coretta Scott King’s remarks in a 1998 address in which she

said that “Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms

of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to

deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood.”

Just last week it was announced that Julian Bond, an icon in the

civil rights movement for nearly 50 years and longtime national

chairman of the NAACP, has stepped into a leadership role with the

Fairness for All Families Campaign in Florida, a statewide coalition

effort working to prevent an effort to write discrimination against

gays and lesbians into that state’s constitution.

These leaders recognize the history of religion-based bigotry and

discrimination toward our own community. We know that religion was once

misused to justify slavery.

Today it is being misused to deny members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community full and equal rights.

The African-American faith community must recognize the perpetrators

and injustice, and bring about an end to the hurt that has been caused

to so many.

Discrimination is morally wrong and un-Christian. Let me repeat this: Discrimination is morally wrong and un-Christian.

Sen. Barack Obama has said that he strongly disagrees with the views

of people like gospel singer Donnie McKlurkin and others who use

religion to attack members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and

transgender community. Those of us who are missionaries for justice and

equality are hopeful that Senator Barack Obama will be true to his

platform for change, and speak out against religious bigotry coming

from a select group of African-American evangelical leaders.

His appearance Monday night at a presidential debate in Myrtle Beach would be a good opportunity for him to do just that.

While Senator Obama’s candidacy for president of the United States

offers hope, let us not forget a facet of society that has had little

hope for change the last 20 years. The purpose of our government, first

and foremost, is equality under the law, respect for human rights, and

protection of all our citizens, whether they are white, black, male,

female, disabled, Christian, or gay. We must be about the business of

building a beloved community with a foundation of compassion and

justice for all.

The Declaration of Independence says: “All people are created equal

and endowed with the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the

pursuit of happiness.” The Bible says, “love the Lord your God with all

your heart” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:30-31 There

are no exceptions about who our neighbors are.

We must be courageous enough on our watch to change our society for the better.

So let us hear the call for change from our leaders and join them in

challenging those people who misuse religious teachings to justify

attitudes of condemnation and discrimination toward our gay and lesbian

friends and neighbors.

Rev. Dr. Bennie Colclough of South Carolina serves as co-chairman

for the S.C. Progressive Network and has been a longtime advocate for

the LGBT community. He is a contributing writer for Faith In America,

an organization that works to help the public better understand the

harm caused by religion-based bigotry and discrimination.